As I said in my last post, I slept in until 7:30 Sunday morning and Oh! You have no idea how good it felt! After an evening of such intense fangirling, I was exhausted and the little bit of extra sleep was wonderful!
With no artist engagements to rush over for and my last panel of the weekend not scheduled until 1 pm, I took my time getting ready. Sipping on coffee and munching on scones courtesy of Sue, I spent far more minutes than I should have agonizing over what to wear but that’s what I did every day so it didn’t really come as any surprise to me or anyone else in the room. Eventually settling on my skully sweater and a pair of shorts (because it makes total sense to wear a sweater in the middle of an L.A. summer…) I got myself ready and headed over to the convention center, ready to start my final day of KCON adventures.
Once at the convention center, Tanya and I headed over to one of the fan booths Tanya’s friend was running and we ended up helping out with sales for about half an hour. It was really kinda fun, scrambling here and there, trying to find all the buttons everyone wanted but I’m glad I only had to do it for a short time. I can only imagine how exhausting it might have been to be running that booth all weekend. Yikes!
From there it was time for me to go check in for my panel but I was a bit early so I ran off to catch up with a few of my friends. Accidentally meeting up near the bathrooms (of all places), we inadvertently ran into the BuzzFeed Try Guys and stuck around to watch them set up for one of their recordings during the convention. I was impressed with how well the guys rocked the K-Pop inspired makeup and I’m really looking forward to seeing what comes of their adventures at KCON.
After catching up with my Chicago buddies and snagging a glass of water from the panelists’ green room (the only time during the entire convention I actually had a moment to spare to make it into the green room) we were all off, my friends to go have fun at another artist engagement and me to my panel where I would soon to begin disclosing the “Secret Lives of K-Pop Fans Over 30” to the world.
As silly as the title of this panel was, it was actually an incredibly fun panel to be a part of. My fellow panelists were all a hoot and our audience was the best. Cramming themselves into a room that was far too small for all of us, audience members filled the seats, stood along the walls and made themselves comfortable on the floor, not so much because they wanted to hear us panelists speak but because they wanted to know they weren’t alone in their “over 30” love of all things Hallyu. (As if age matters at all… *pfffft!*) Laughing along as we shared our experiences as fangirls over 30, the audience was quick to join in, expressing their equally undying love of K-Pop and dramas. Though the panel was scheduled to run 90 minutes, we found that at the end of it no one was really ready to leave so we just kept going. Eventually the convention center staff came in and told us we had to leave so they could set up for the next panel and you should’ve heard the disappointed groans fill the room. It made me feel good knowing I was part of something that brought joy to so many and I had a lot of fun talking with people afterwards. There is definitely solidarity among us “older” K-Pop lovers. Though for the record, NO ONE in that room was old!
After my panel it was once again time to make my mad dash back and forth between the convention center, dropping off my panelist persona and putting on my hat as press. But first I took a little detour and had lunch with a few of my friends. Learning my lesson on not eating the day before, I grabbed a pork bahn mi from one of the food trucks outside and had a ton of fun chatting with friends I only get to see in person once a year (If I’m lucky) while munching away on my sandwich. As tasty as the food was, I don’t really remember much about it (other than it made my stomach stop growling) because I was having far too much fun with my friends to pay attention to my food. I seriously love my friends and hate that we only get to meet up on very rare occasions but at least I can say we make the most of our moments together when we get them.
After lunch it really was time to make my mad dash back to the hotel and on my way back to the convention center, I was joined by a friendly guy who had, along with his wife, been in the audience of my Over 30 Panel. We chatted about life as K-Pop fans, about our adventures to various concerts and other random stuff you talk about when you share a common love of something as awesome as K-Pop. Parting ways at the press check in, I once again waited on pins and needles as my fate as a member of Sunday’s press pit was yet to be determined.
Spending the time in limbo chatting with fellow members of the press, one of which was also a fellow panelist, the time passed pleasantly enough and before I knew it, I’d gotten my approval and we were all off for the Red Carpet. Once again the lot of us scurried across the convention center, herded into our press pen and told to essentially sit, stay and be good. Of course none of us were going to be bad, we were front and sort of close-ish to the center for the evening’s red carpet event for goodness sake! We were all so happy to be there, you could’ve told us afterwards we were going to all be taken out and executed and it would have been fine, as long as we were allowed to publish our pictures first. (Okay, so maybe executed is a bit harsh but still… You get the idea.)
Though the audience for Sunday’s red carpet was a lot smaller than Saturday’s it still took forever to get everyone settled so I spent a lot of time cringing as the same painful video loop played on the big screens that flanked the stage. (You know, you can only watch Psy eat dumplings so many times before you begin to wish you could throw things at his head…) Eventually everyone was settled and it was finally time to get this show movin’! Red Velvet was the first to walk the red carpet and they are the cutest bunch of munchkins ever. Seriously, they all look like they’re about 12 (and yes, I do have a 12-year-old so I know what I’m talking about) but that just makes them seem more adorable, I suppose.
AOA was next to walk the carpet and they too were just as cute as could be in their little orange and black uniforms, though that may be more because they reminded me of my time in grade school… It’s the whole orange and black thing… School colors and all. Still, they were cute and I had several moments of hair envy as my hair will never be as long and gorgeous as theirs. *sobs* Zion.T and Crush followed AOA but they didn’t say a word while they were onstage. Seriously! They walked the carpet, posed for pictures and walked off. It was the shortest appearance in the history of the world and it kinda made me laugh but also kinda made me cry. Everyone else did super short interviews and I’d have liked to have heard what they had to say but I guess maybe they didn’t have anything to say in the first place. It’s always a possibility, right?
After Zion.T and Crush disappeared backstage, Eric Nam appeared on-stage and he had more than enough to say so I guess that kinda makes up for Zion.T & Crush’s silence??? Even if it doesn’t, Eric Nam was as cute as ever and he laughed and smiled and tried to dance (which made everyone cringe) and then he said his goodbyes and that was it. (Did I mention I walked right past him twice on Saturday and didn’t even realize it was him until after I’d passed him? Well I did and it makes me laugh that he was just standing there, talking on his phone, and I didn’t even realize it was him until I had to walk by a second time because the stairs had been mysteriously blocked off. How’s that for a story?) But back to the Red Carpet…
After Eric Nam, it was Block B’s turn to walk the red carpet and OH HOLY FLIP! I wanted to screech and squeal and cry when I first saw them but I didn’t because I’m a “professional” and that’s not how we react to idols, even when we love them as much as I love
Zico Block B. Still, I may have internally shrieked loud enough for Block B to hear me because I have quite a few pictures of them staring into my camera. (Something I didn’t realize at the time because I was being a “professional” but found out as I was scrolling through my pics afterwards. And yes, in case you’re wondering, I did shriek every time I found another eye contact picture. Very loudly, actually. And then I fell over dead.) Needless to say, I very much enjoyed Block B’s time on the Red Carpet stage and I internally sobbed when it was over, wondering why in the world they couldn’t just stand there, talking, forever.
Of course the answer to my supremely biased and fangirly question was SHINHWA was up next and well… What more can I say? I mean this is SHINHWA, we’re talking about here. They more than deserve their time on the red carpet and I was happy to see them there. Had I not been in “professional” mode, I would have been screeching “oppa!” the second their appeared and I would have loved every second of it. (Mostly because it was the first time in my life I could actually call members of a group “oppa!” and I’m all about seizing the moment!) I will say, SHINHWA are a mighty dashing group of men and they certainly know how to stop a fangirl’s heart! (Not that I’m a fangirl or anything… Nope! I’m strictly a profess… Yeah, I can’t even finish typing that.)
When SHINHWA’s time in the spotlight was over, I thought the evening was done but there was one more guest ready to walk the red carpet and OH. DEAR. SWEET. BABY. DANCING. UNICORNS! When Kim Soo Hyun came waltzing around the corner and graced us all with his adorable presence and shocked smiles, I thought I was going to fall over. (I don’t think he expected to find so many fans while he was in LA. The look of surprise on his face was priceless and completely swoon-worthy!) Standing before me, in all of his incredible glory, was one of my most favorite actors of all time and I kid you not, I completely forgot how to breathe. Needless to say, I had a bit of a moment as I was standing there, being all “professional” and it took me a second to remember how to make my camera take pictures. I did eventually breathe again and I did eventually remember I was there to take pictures but OH MY! I’m not sure I’ll ever be the same again.
With Kim Soo Hyun’s disappearance backstage, it really was the end of the evening’s red carpet festivities and I was left to stumble my way back to my hotel, drop off my camera and once again let myself fall into full-on fangirl mode as I headed over to the Staples Center for the evening’s concert with Tanya. Meeting up with Lola and India in the nosebleed section, we all settled into our seats (which I wouldn’t dare get out of until the very end of the concert because I was so far up I was terrified of tripping over my own feet and plummeting to my death) and chatted about our day as we waited for the pre-show entertainment to begin.
As impressed as I was with Saturday’s pre-concert entertainment, I honestly got into Sunday’s a whole lot more. The Korean indie band, Core Magazine, opened the evening and I was totally into them. Like, I need to find their albums because I LOVED them and I want to support them in any way that I can, into them. Jun Sung Ahn took the stage next and, as always, his performance was fantabulous! His talent as a musician just blows me away and he’s so frickin’ adorable it should be illegal which means I was in total awe during his two song act.
After the pre-show, the real show of the evening began and Red Velvet was first to take the stage. Once again, I got more kicks out of imagining BTS’ J-Hope dancing along than I did actually watching the girls. (I know, I know, I need to expand my musical horizons and accept more girl groups into my circle of K-Pop love but it’s just so hard!) Yes, Red Velvet was cute but cute doesn’t cut it for me and swishy cheerleader skirts only make me laugh. (Something about flashbacks to high school and my incredible ability to heckle… Yeah, Waldorf and Statler would’ve been proud…)
After Red Velvet it was Block B’s turn to take the stage and yes, I once again let my inner fangirl run free. However, being so far up the fear of death was real, I stayed reluctantly glued to my seat as Zico opened the act with an abridged version of “Tough Cookie.” As painful as it was not to get up and scream my head off for Zico it was a zillion times worse when Bastarz took the stage immediately after and performed “Zero fro Conduct.” All I wanted was a chance to see this song performed live and I got it but I was so far away P.O, B-Bomb and U-Kwon looked like dancing ants. *wails* And then it was time for all of Block B to take the stage and when they did I screamed until my screamer was broken and I chair-danced my way through their entire set, singing along with my broken screamer as best I could.
Once again I lamented over the fact Block B’s part in KCON was over far sooner than I wanted it to be and I kinda sulked my way through AOA’s performance. Again, I tried to get into them but honestly after watching SISTAR on Saturday, the other girl groups just kinda fell flat for me. The same thing happened last year after I saw SPICA. I guess my heart only has room for one girl group at a time and SISTAR stole it at this year’s KCON.
Zion.T & Crush were the next to take the stage and I think my friend India summed up their performance the best when she said, “This is baby making music…” She also said some other things but I won’t repeat them here. Needless to say, Zion.T & Crush were phenomenal but they may have been a tad under-appreciated by the younger crowd. Still, that’s the beauty of something like KCON, there’s always something for everyone and I know of quite a few who enjoyed this particular set.
As was the case on Saturday night, another special stage had been planned for Sunday and I enjoyed it quite a bit, especially when Zico made his appearance. (I know, shocker, right?) Once again I cursed myself for being terrified of standing up at my seat but I really didn’t think Zico would appreciate a dead fangirl so I kept myself glued to my chair and cheered as loudly as I could with my still broken screamer.
After the special stage SHINHWA made their appearance and suddenly my perception of the whole evening changed. Yes, I still had moments of intense fangirling, especially when SHINHWA performed “This Love” (which is my favoritest of their songs ever in the history of the whole world) but beyond the fangirling I felt as if I was taking part in some momentous moment in history. It was as if watching SHINHWA perform was the single most important moment in my life as a K-Pop loving fangirl and that at that particular moment I needed to sit up and pay attention because I shouldn’t miss such an incredible occasion.
It was a very strange sensation, feeling as if I were taking part in history as KCON 2015 came to a close, and one I’ve never experienced in all of my concert-going days. I walked out of the Staples Center that night feeling as if I’d just been a part of something incredibly important and I felt honored to have played some small part in making it happen and in awe that I’d been there to experience this awesomeness in person. It was a very intense feeling and one that lingered for quite a while afterwards and I have to say, it’s a feeling I’ll never forget.
After the concert ended I met up with a bunch of friends as this was the time to say goodbye. With KCON over there was nothing left for us to look forward to but long and exhausting trips home and endless months apart. The worst part of KCON is saying goodbye and I hated watching my friends go their separate ways because, as always, I never know when I’ll see them again. Thankfully I had my Chicago friends with me as I said goodbye to others and I found comfort in knowing that at least some of my friends are never very far away. (And for that I am supremely grateful because without them I’d never make it through my daily life!)
With goodbyes said and tummies growling, it was time for the six of us remaining to go find some food. Grabbing a cab from the hotel, we set off for K-Town and something delicious. Sadly by the time we got to Iota it was late and they were out of pretty much everything, including waiters that actually cared to do their job. After hours of disappointing service and a menu that was pretty much useless, we gave up, ate whatever the kitchen decided to serve us and left, hungry and disappointed. The only highlight of our failed quest for food was that we got to spend a lot of time together (something we’d never really gotten a chance to do over the course of the week) and we sat at a table next to a couple of Korean models I follow on Instagram, which was kinda cool.
From the restaurant it was time for us to go our separate ways as Tanya and I were exhausted and our beds were calling our name. Saying goodbye to Torie, Sean, Jessie and Sarah, Tanya and I walked the couple of blocks back to the hotel our friends were staying at, in the hopes the hotel would be able to call us a cab. Unfortunately only our hotel was actually cool enough to get a cab for us so we had to call and wait… and wait… and wait… and wait for a cab to eventually come to get us but come it did and eventually we were back at our hotel. Exhausted beyond belief we stumbled our way back to our room, said goodnight and fell fast asleep.